Drawing The Line For Democratic Choice: How the Petition Clause can Restore a Citizen’s Right to Participate in Commission-Driven Redistricting
This Essay argues that commission-driven redistricting (and the “apolitical” process enshrined therein) frustrates a citizen’s right to meaningfully participate in electoral design. This right is fundamental, and has long been safeguarded by the First Amendment’s assertion that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Accordingly, I propose that courts use the Petition Clause as a constitutional remedy against rules that abridge substantive public input in commission-driven redistricting. To illustrate this claim, I analyze how one commonly adopted commission rule—the ex parte contacts prohibition—limits democratic choice. Then, I examine how a court might deploy the First Amendment to repair the harm inflicted by the rule.